Enhancing Your Compliance Practice with the FINRA Institute at Georgetown CRCP Program
The FINRA Institute at Georgetown Certified Regulatory and Compliance Professional Program is designed to give compliance, legal and regulatory professionals an in-depth understanding of the foundation, theory and practical application of securities laws and regulation.
On this episode, we hear from Jim Angel, CRCP Program Academic Director and Associate Professor with the Georgetown McDonough School of Business, and Susanne Goldsmith, a Senior Director with FINRA's Member Relations and Education team, about what makes the CRCP Program a must for FINRA member firms and their high-performing compliance staff.
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00:00 - 00:26
Kaitlyn Kiernan: The FINRA Institute at Georgetown Certified Regulatory and Compliance Professional Program is designed to give compliance, legal and regulatory professionals an in-depth understanding of the foundation, theory and practical application of securities laws and regulation. On this episode, we hear from the CRCP Program's Academic Director and FINRA Program Leader about what makes a CRCP Program a must for FINRA member firms and their high-performing compliance staff.
00:35 - 01:05
Kaitlyn Kiernan: Welcome to FINRA Unscripted. I'm your host, Kaitlyn Kiernan. I'm excited to welcome to the show two guests to talk to us about the FINRA Institute at Georgetown Certified Regulatory and Compliance Professional or CRCP Program. With us today is CRCP Program Academic Director and Associate Professor with the Georgetown McDonough School of Business, Jim Angel, and Susanne Goldsmith, a Senior Director with FINRA's Member Relations and Education team. Jim and Susanne, welcome to the show.
01:05 - 01:06
Susanne Goldsmith: Glad to be here.
01:07 - 01:08
Jim Angel: Thank you for having me.
01:08 - 01:18
Kaitlyn Kiernan: So, to kick us off, can you both start by introducing yourselves, maybe share a little bit about your background and your relationship with the CRCP Program? Susanne, do you want to kick us off?
01:19 - 02:01
Susanne Goldsmith: Sure. Absolutely. So, I have worked at FINRA for over 20 years, and I've served a variety of roles, including being a manager in the call center to a project manager in CRED. For the last 15 years, I've worked in Member Relations and Education. But we call it MR&E. So, I lead MR&E's Education and Networking team, and that group's responsible for conferences and events and other member education initiatives. I also work closely with subject matter experts from across FINRA to inform FINRA's member firm communication efforts and all of our educational programming. One of the programs that I lead is the CRCP Program and I'm also a proud graduate of the program.
Kaitlyn Kiernan: And Jim, how about you?
02:03 - 02:46
Jim Angel: My name is Jim Angel and I'm a finance professor at Georgetown University, and I've been here for over 30 years. I started my career as a Caltech trained engineer, Pacific Gas and Electric, and they stuck me in the rates department where I started working on regulatory issues. One thing led to another. I went to grad school and became a finance professor at Georgetown, where I've been for over 30 years. However, along the way, I got to be the visiting academic fellow at the National Association of Securities Dealers, NASD, now FINRA, and learned a lot about market structure there because market structure is my specialty. The nuts and bolts details of how markets operate and regulation is a huge part of that.
02:47 - 03:06
Kaitlyn Kiernan: That is quite the transition from engineering to market structure. Jim, you are with us on a podcast a couple of years ago that we will link to for people who want to learn more about the intricacies of how the program works. But at a high level, can you tell us what this program is and who it's designed for?
03:07 - 04:05
Jim Angel: Yes, the Certified Regulatory and Compliance Professional Program is a two-week program, one week in July and one week in November, and it's designed for high-performing people in the compliance area. We have a carefully selected group of people from the industry and regulators as well from both FINRA and the SEC. So, we have a very talented group of students who are high-performers and whose employers are investing more in their employees. In this program, we cover a variety of topics. Not only do we cover the nuts-and-bolts details of how and why we regulate financial markets, we also focus on leadership because we realize that these compliance professionals are going to be called on by their organizations to create a culture of compliance. They need to be able to communicate the many changes that are and will be occurring in regulation, and they need to be able to build teams to implement those changes.
04:06 - 04:09
Kaitlyn Kiernan: And Susanne, why does FINRA put on this program?
04:10 - 04:42
Susanne Goldsmith: We've heard that many people who work in or are interested in compliance, they have not learned some of the background and history related to why compliance regulation exists and how they've been developed. Where the CRCP Program provides an overview of not only the compliance issues that firms and compliance professionals face, but also their origin and how the regulations work to better the industry. And having this understanding helps firms implement stronger compliance programs.
04:43 - 05:21
Kaitlyn Kiernan: The how and why is a big part of this podcast and what we try to do here, and actually on our last episode, talking about the benefits of the program to the individual, I was so sold I signed up for the program myself as one of the FINRA participants. So, shout out to the 2019 cohort. But I was convinced of the benefits to the individual that we focused on on that podcast. But today I want to talk and focus more on the benefits to the firms who are sending individuals to this program. So, Susanne, what do you think is the benefit for a firm who is investing in an employee to participate in the CRCP Program?
05:22 - 05:53
Susanne Goldsmith: It's so hard to uncouple those two things because by investing in their employee, the firm is obviously reinvesting in themselves, but it truly is an investment in compliance. That's how I see this. Clearly the education they receive at the program will help the firm have a stronger understanding of the rules, but also where the industry is heading. So, in addition, attending the program provides compliance professionals confidence in their understanding of the rules so that they can enhance the firm's procedures from a base of knowledge and understanding.
05:54 - 05:57
Kaitlyn Kiernan: That sounds great. Jim, anything you would add?
05:58 - 06:55
Jim Angel: Yes. Regulation is a constantly changing area and many times firms get in trouble for things that aren't clearly written in the rules. Good compliance leadership understands this. Good compliance leaders understand not only what people were prosecuted for last decade, but what they may be prosecuted for going forward. So, it's essential that any organization have compliance leaders who really understand not just last year's rules, but also where things are going. Because I can guarantee you this, firms will get into trouble in coming years for things that they were not getting into trouble in the past. And so having compliance leaders who can actually spot these emerging trends and steer the firms in the right direction is absolutely essential, not only for the firms to thrive, but for the firms to survive.
06:55 - 07:13
Kaitlyn Kiernan: So, I guess a lot of the curriculum focuses on, you mentioned regulatory theory and the history of these regulations, so does that mean you're trying to teach people kind of how to understand not just the letter of the law, but the spirit of the law? That phrase people sometimes use?
07:13 - 07:45
Susanne Goldsmith: Yeah, absolutely. I think the discussion on each topic is really helping all the participants gain such a strong and better understanding of regulation and all of the common challenges. I also want to add, we talk a lot about what's learned inside the classroom, but kind of beyond the classroom, the relationships the participants build during group work, special dinners and lunches. It provides them with a network of diverse perspectives, including peers, FINRA staff, other regulators who they can reach out to with questions.
07:46 - 08:02
Kaitlyn Kiernan: I have seen that happen in my own cohort, so I know that that is an ongoing network that people can take advantage of. And Jim, when it comes to designing the program, how do you help the graduates turn all the theory that they learn into practice when they return to their firms?
08:02 - 08:48
Jim Angel: We strive to make material as useful as possible. Yes, we cover the history and the background, so there's an understanding of where regulation came from and where it's going. But also, we work very hard to make it as practical and realistic and up to date as we possibly can. We have a mix of instructors. Some of us, like myself, are tenured professors, others are people from FINRA or other regulatory agencies who understand this stuff inside and out. So, you get a good mix of the theory and the practice. Furthermore, we strive to make sure that all the readings, all the exercises, all the discussions are extraordinarily practical and applicable in the day-to-day jobs when the CRCP graduates get back to the office.
08:49 - 09:06
Kaitlyn Kiernan: And Jim, you mentioned earlier that there's also the leadership and communication component of the program, and I wanted to dig into that a little bit more. Why is it important to have compliance professionals that are strong leaders or strong communicators?
09:07 - 10:12
Jim Angel: Well, the compliance professionals can't do it by themselves. It's their job to keep the rest of the organization compliant. And that means they need to communicate why it's important, what people have to do. It means they also need to be able to take leadership for when things change because things are always changing in regulation. And so, there's a real need for compliance professionals to be on top of this, understand where the regulators are coming from, what's coming down the line, and then they need to move the organization in the right direction. And that involves not just sending out a memo, but it involves a lot of managing upward, convincing the C-suite officers that, look, we got to do this if we're going to stay in business. And it also means managing sideways and downward as well. And those are skills that are not automatic for everyone. And so, there's a real need for development of those skills in order to amplify the effectiveness of the compliance department.
10:12 - 10:23
Susanne Goldsmith: I love that you're learning about compliance, so you have the knowledge, but we're also giving you the tools to express what you've learned so that your message can be heard.
10:24 - 10:34
Kaitlyn Kiernan: That sounds great, Susanne. The CRCP Program is a big investment, both in terms of time and money. Are there any scholarships available?
10:34 - 10:59
Susanne Goldsmith: Yes. FINRA has the CRCP Small Firm Scholarship Program, and that was developed to facilitate participation from small firms. We offer five scholarships annually and the selection is actually done by a subgroup of the Small Firm Advisory Committee. So, the subgroup is not provided any identifying information during the review process. So, they don't know who the applicant is or the firm is when they're making their selection.
11:00 - 11:10
Kaitlyn Kiernan: That's interesting. So, it's not FINRA making the determination. It's the Small Firm Advisory Committee, which is made up of individuals from small firm membership.
11:11 - 11:12
Susanne Goldsmith: Right, correct.
11:12 - 11:22
Kaitlyn Kiernan: On the time side of things, Jim, what would you say to a firm that's reluctant to have staff take two full weeks away from the office for this program?
11:23 - 11:54
Jim Angel: It's an investment in your employees with a very high return on investment. It's not two weeks at the same time. It's one week in July, one week in November. It's an investment that will pay dividends in terms of higher productivity, which will more than offset the two weeks. And furthermore, since these are high-performing people, you can view it as an employee reward. And since these again are high-performing people with plenty of other opportunities, if you don't show your appreciation by investing in your people, they may very well move on.
11:56 - 12:13
Kaitlyn Kiernan: So, I want to move on and focus on the curriculum a little bit now. Jim, how does the way you approach and structure the curriculum for the CRCP Program differ when your students are working professionals versus maybe the typical undergrad or graduate student at Georgetown?
12:14 - 12:40
Jim Angel: Well, at Georgetown, we have a lot of experience working with working professionals because many of our programs, like our online Master's in Finance program, are basically designed around working professionals. So, we understand that you have to be very cognizant of their time, make sure that the readings and preparations are doable by people with many other claims on their time, and you have to make sure that they're extraordinarily relevant.
12:42 - 12:47
Kaitlyn Kiernan: And how does what you cover during the two-week program evolve with changes in the industry?
12:48 - 13:25
Jim Angel: Daily. We live in a fast-changing environment. And one of the things that we have to do is really update the curriculum each time. Now, some things haven't changed. The 33 Act is still the 33 Act, but when you look at areas like financial technology or the so-called digital asset space, that is changing every single day, and we do our best to keep the curriculum up to date to adapt to an ever-changing financial world and to help produce compliance professionals who are flexible enough to stay current in an ever-changing environment.
13:26 - 13:47
Susanne Goldsmith: So, in addition to looking at the emerging and ever-changing topics, we also look at the fundamental topics and see what has changed and what's impacting those now. So, like, for example, the supervision role and inspections. So, now we've moved to the impacts of the remote environment. We look at those challenges, we try to discuss them during the week.
13:48 - 14:11
Kaitlyn Kiernan: Even since I did the program in 2019, we have gone from suitability to Reg BI and that is one big change and it's so important because the rate of change in the industry right now is pretty remarkable. So, to wrap it up, Jim, what would you say you get out of teaching the program and serving as Academic Director?
14:12 - 14:35
Jim Angel: I have a lot of fun. I'm the kind of person that I enjoy reading SEC rule proposals just for entertainment and writing comment letters. So, this is my intellectual pleasure. And one of the great things is by interacting with the students at the breakfasts, the lunches, the dinners, I learn a lot more about the nuts-and-bolts reality. So, it really helps build my skillset along the way.
14:36 - 14:46
Susanne Goldsmith: And I'll just say that Jim, being in the classroom, it is infectious. Your passion for compliance, you can tell that you live and breathe it and are so knowledgeable.
14:47 - 14:56
Kaitlyn Kiernan: And Susanne, if a firm is on the fence about sending someone, what's the one thing you would want them to walk away with from today's episode?
14:57 - 15:18
Susanne Goldsmith: Saying it more succinctly, the CRCP Program is worth the investment. So, whether you're interested in building a stronger compliance program, you want access to world-renowned professors and experts, want to build your company's network or just have your employee gain a better understanding of regulation, you really can get all of that at the CRCP Program.
15:19 - 15:52
Kaitlyn Kiernan: For anyone who has listened to today's episode and wants to sign up someone for next year, we will include a link to where you can do that in our show notes. That's it for today's episode. Susanne and Jim, thank you so much for joining me to once again talk about the CRCP Program. For our listeners, if you don't already, make sure you subscribe to FINRA Unscripted wherever you listen to podcasts to stay up to date on all of our new episodes. If you have comments on today's episodes or ideas for future episodes, you can email us at [email protected]
15:52 - 15:59
Kaitlyn Kiernan: Today's episode was produced by me Kaitlyn Kiernan, with assistance from Hannah Krobock and engineered by John Williams. Until next time.
16:04 - 16:31
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16:31 – 16:36
Music Fades Out